One of the most difficult things in designing a functional interactive course is to make it appealing for students and to anticipate potential problems they might have. When talking about course design, the word ‘problems’ does not refer to content of the course, but to its structure. Very often people might find it discouraging and annoying when they do not understand what their task is and when they cannot grasp everything by only looking at it.
In this sense we have to be very careful as to avoid the scroll of death, inappropriate letter size, fonts, spaces, line length, line spacing, page layout etc.
“No matter what you do with your typography it always has an impact.”
Online layout has to be CLEAR, which means that there must be enough BLANK space. Owing to this blank space students have a feeling that the task is not too difficult, i.e. they are not demotivated to do the task.
Space between the lines and paragraphs adds to this blank space on the page. Line-height must not be too small. In percentage, the default line height in most browsers is about 110% to 120%. Line height can also be expressed in pixels. My favourite line height is 1.5 to 2.0.
If you are not satisfied with the line-height, you can easily adapt it by finding the html code (<>) in the toolbar and add: line-height: 1.5;
At the end, it is worth mentioning that there has to be blank space everywhere, both to the left and right of the text, between the lines and paragraphs. This will make online reading MUCH easier.
Also, the length of lines is very important. Too long lines make reading more difficult. Although people (teachers in particular) usually like to have justified alignment, because the text then looks more organized, I have read numerous articles which argue that the right margin should not be justified. WHY?
Besides the obvious reason that big gaps between words interrupt the reading flow, there’s a less obvious reason. While the reader’s eye is scanning each line, it’s easier for her to find the next line if the lines are of uneven length. This is especially true for dyslexic readers.
Justified Alignment is actually non-standard for the web, and the W3C standards commitee state the following :
Many people with cognitive disabilities have a great deal of trouble with blocks of text that are justified (aligned to both the left and the right margins). The spaces between words create “rivers of white” running down the page, which can make the text difficult for some people to read. This failure describes situations where this confusing text layout occurs. The best way to avoid this problem is not to create text layout that is fully justified (aligned to both the left and the right margins).